July 3, 2012
A lawsuit filed Friday against the University of Wisconsin Hospital alleges personnel there improperly disclosed a patient's AIDS diagnosis to family members. The case marks the second time in about eight months UW Hospital has been sued because doctors allegedly revealed a patient's HIV status to family members without permission.
The new lawsuit was filed by the patient's estate and family. Before the man died, he was "embarrassed, humiliated, and deprived of a dignified death by the unauthorized disclosure of his HIV/AIDS status," the suit alleges.
According to the filing, a resident told the wife and son of the patient that he had AIDS, rather than wake him from a nap to tell him personally. The man was forced to tell his wife he had been unfaithful and that his diagnosis was likely the result of same-sex extramarital affairs he never intended to reveal.
The lawsuit also alleges that medical personnel disregarded privacy safeguards the family was told had been initiated to avoid further disclosures, with a resident and medical students discussing the man's condition in the presence of one of his sisters.
"Many of his siblings questioned him about his diagnosis, and prior to [the man's] death he knew and understood that his HIV/AIDS status and his same-sex extramarital affairs had been disclosed to all his siblings and his mother, and he suffered greatly as a result," says the suit.
The other lawsuit was filed by a man whose mother was allegedly told at the hospital he was HIV-positive. Court records show that case is in court-ordered mediation.
UW Hospital spokesperson Toni Morrissey said the hospital has not received the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation.